The History of Mr. Douglas Smith
Mr. Smith was born on July 5, 1920 in Groveton, Texas to Mr. and Mrs. A.E. Smith. In 1922 the Smith family moved to the Alief area. Douglas grew up as a farm boy and began school, and graduated later from the same building. Two years later in 1939, that building was declared unsafe and torn down to make room for a new school.
When Douglas was 13 years old, he has hired and paid one dollar per day by Mr. Winkleman, the owner of the gin. Mr. Smith says that Mr. Winkleman was like a second father to him. Little did Mr. Smith know at that time that one day he would be the owner of this gin.
Mr. Smith also worked as a brick layer in the construction of the new Alief school building. One day while working on this building, he fell. Later he lost his vision in one of his eyes due to this mishap. After that, Mr. Smith began work for the Houston Oil Company of Texas. Nine years later, in 1952, he started his own business of ginning cotton.
On October 24, 1941, Mr. Douglas Smith married Miss Ruby Lee Martin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Martin. Their children, Gary, Gene, and Mary Ann were born and raised in the Alief area. At one time, Mr. Smith moved his ginning operation to Sugarland. His oldest son still operates their gin that is located in Needville.
Mr. Smith was elected to the Board of Education in 1958 and served for 11 years. One of the first items discussed after his election was the proposal for the Southwest Freeway System which would connect rural Alief with Houston. In 1958, there were 8 teachers and only 6 grades of instruction. Student enrollment was approximately 250. The first financial need of the district involved securing a $25,000 loan from the Cameron State Bank, for the purpose of purchasing a school bus and building a cafeteria. Plans were made to add one grade each year and in 1967, seventeen seniors graduated from Alief High School. Another one of Mr. Smith’s contributions to Alief during this time was to help in the efforts to hold free kindergarten in Alief and provide the first air-conditioning in an Alief school.
Mr. Smith was always interested in the continued development of students and helped organize the first little league program in the community as well as the addition on athletics to Alief schools. Mr. Smith lived in Alief for many years and kept an active interest in Alief schools.
He passed away a few years ago. His wife, Mrs. Ruby Lee Smith continued to live in Katy until she passed on May 21, 2015.